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The measure of social cohesion The case of composite indicators Bruxelles, May 15 Defays D., Guio A.C.,Laffut M., Ruyters C.

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Presentation on theme: "The measure of social cohesion The case of composite indicators Bruxelles, May 15 Defays D., Guio A.C.,Laffut M., Ruyters C."— Presentation transcript:

1 The measure of social cohesion The case of composite indicators Bruxelles, May 15 Defays D., Guio A.C.,Laffut M., Ruyters C.

2 Context Strong demand for simple measures from political authorities and from the users Alternative or complement to the big picture given by GDP needed Demand from the Walloon region : design of a Access to fundamental rigths Indicator to assess social cohesion at commune level Decision to work out a composite indicator

3 Objective of the presentation To discuss the relevance of measuring social cohesion by a composite indicator constructed by aggregation of a set of social indicators

4 Plan of the presentation The concept to be measured : social cohesion by access to fundamental rights Political context in the Walloon region Statistical approach of social cohesion The access to fundamental rights composite indicator (ISADF) Relevance of composite indicators Statistical relevance of the ISADF Statistics : a language or a measure ?

5 The concept of social cohesion and its measures (1) Necessity to balance measure of prosperity with measure of well being or of healthiness of a society Regarding prosperity, the GDP gives the big picture; its legitimacy is underpinned by the existence of a broadly agreed formalisation of the accounts of a nation. Regarding the healthiness of a society, a similar measure which could frame social policy is lacking Social cohesion, sometimes qualified as a quasi concept, is however broadly used to frame discussions on social policies; it is mainly approached as a multidimensional entity

6 The concept of social cohesion and its measures (2) Social cohesion has been tackled from different angles : –Measure of disparities and measures of social connections –Objective measures based on capabilities and subjective measures based on perceptions –Measures of access to different fundamental rights –Numerous social indicators proposed by international organisations Tension between the measure of well being of individuals (from characterisations of the persons like poverty, material deprivation, perceived well-being..) and quality of a society (from characterization of a community as a whole like level of equity, of solidarity, of concern for future generations …) The concept of social cohesion could be judged for its consistency but also for its political utility

7 Current political situation in the Walloon Region From the fight against poverty to the promotion of social cohesion Strengthening of social cohesion as one the 12 objectives of the CAWA The main current political initiative (Marshall Plan) is focussed on fostering economic development in the region But a strategic plan (PST3) for facilitation social inclusion is approved in October 2005 Design of a new policy to strengthen social cohesion at local level; eligibility of communes to apply for subsidies partly depends on the score they get on an access to fundamental rights composite indicator (ISADF)

8 The measures of social cohesion in the Walloon Region Adoption of the Council of Europe conceptual framework : social cohesion as access to fundamental rights Application of the methodology in a panorama of social cohesion in the region published end of December 2007 and in an ongoing assessment of a regional fight against social exclusion policy(Plan Habitat Permanent) Involvement in the design of new policy strategy to promote cohesion at local level and to measure it : proposal of the ISADF to assess social cohesion

9 The ISADF (1) Constraints : social cohesion as the access to 6 different fundamental rights (theoretical choice); a factor linked to vulnerable groups had to be added to the six domains considered in the access to rights approach; the information had to be available and meaningful at commune level; the variables should be linked to the effective use of the rights not to the resources or facilities offered by the communes; no weights were attached to the seven domains; this would have required a judgment or a public debate which could not be made in the frame of that work; a single indicator.

10 The ISADF (2) Construction in different steps 1.Inventory of available information at commune level. 2.Selection of variables based on relevance, recognition and use in the field of social cohesion; 7 domains covered 1.right to a decent income; 2.right to protection of health and to social and medical assistance; 3.right to adequate housing and healthy environment; 4.right to work; 5.right to education and training; 6.right to culture and to social welfare; at risk populations 3.Analysis of the correlation structure of the variables in order to avoid too much redundancy in the information.

11 List of variables taken into account

12 The ISADF (3) 4) Standardisation of the components and definition of sub-composite indicators per domain; normalisation of the sub- composite indicators 5) The 7 sub-composite indicators were added to get the ISADF

13 Relevance of the ISADF What makes the value of that indicator? – Its statistical value, its meaningfulness (an indicator which depicts properties of some observed empirical system) ? – Its mathematical legitimacy (part or by product of a model, mathematical properties)? – Its recognition by peers, its credibility? – Its political relevance (utility), its readiness ?

14 Representational view of measurement An indicator takes its sense from what it tells on some empirical or material system. It has to represent with numbers a property of the objects of an empirical system (Suppes, Krantz, Roberts …) Illustration: –measure of air pollution by addition of densities of various pollutants present in the air; GDP can be seen as a composite indicator with this kind of relevance; –measure of social cohesion as an aggregation, among others, of rate of low wages, average income and a rate of isolated persons who are more than 65 years old ; there is no underlying physical reality. Lack of a kind of common currency

15 A weaker assumption : compensations are possible A composite indicator encapsulates a kind of “compensation” assumption or trade-off. A drop in one component can be compensated by an increase in another one (Munda and Nardo) In our daily life, we continuously trade time against money and work, risk for the health against pleasure, comfort of lodging against leisure etc. Could these individual preferences be taken as a basis for the construction of an indicator?

16 Alternative to the representational view point A concept is not more that a set of operations. The measure has only to lead to figures in clearly defined ways (to make the measurement reproducible)

17 Optimality What about : –latent variables used in structural equations –principal components as defined in principal component analysis –common factors in factorial analysis, –-etc.? Why are they legitimate? –They are independent of human judgments –They have some kind of clearly defined optimality and are often linked to reduced dimensionality: –They are unique under the constraints which are imposed or part of a general analytical model

18 Fitness to intended purpose, acceptance by peers, readability, interpretability Can summarise complex or multi-dimensional issues in view of supporting decision-makers. Easier to interpret. Facilitate communication with general public (i.e. citizens, media, etc.) and promote accountability.

19 Analysis of the ISADF (Cronbach coefficients)

20 Confirmatory Factor Analysis Goodness of fit index : 0.95 Model tested: –For i= 1,…,18 and k=1,…,7 X i = α i f k + ε i where X i represents an elementary variable and f k a factor linked to the domain of X i

21 Principal Component Analysis First factor explains 44% of the total variance Correlation between first component and ISADF : 0.98

22 First component x ISADF

23 Statistical relevance of the ISADF No representation of properties of an empirical system No implicit substitution rate An underlying structure confirmed by a factorial analysis Very close to the first principal component : minimisation of the information loss.

24 Conclusions The ISADF at the crossing of meaningful construction and mathematical optimality The ISADF : a statistics in the Padieu sense of the term … …The aim of this description is to enlighten the action of the government, that is to say that the aim of the description is political… Legitimacy coming as well from the construction process : results of a negotiation at political level and part of a decree

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